Dedicated to the martyr Prisca, who was beheaded in the first century, the church of Santa Prisca was built between the fourth and fifth centuries.
Santa Prisca owes its present appearance to the restoration that was carried out for the Jubilee of 1600. Inside the church, an ancient Roman capital has been adapted as a baptismal font and, according to legend, it was on this site that St Peter baptised Prisca. The episode was depicted by Domenico Passignano (1559-1638) in the painting above the high altar.
In 1934, excavation work beneath the church led to the discovery of a third century mithraeum – a place of worship dedicated to the god Mithras – and a first century Roman house, thought to be that of Aquila and Priscilla, where St Paul was a guest.
The Mithraeum, which measures 11 m by 4.5 m, is situated on the east side of the crypt, beyond the foundations of the apse. Of all the known Mithraea, this is the most complete.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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